Yale's policy is to not allow exposed skin in research labs. Granted, this is hard to enforce. One problem with allowing skirts and capri pants, etc. is that the person will have no other clothing available for those procedures that clearly require protection.
My problem with the individual risk assessment approach for minimal PPE (also advocated in the BMBL for lab eyewear) is that everyone's assessment of risk is different. This is analogous to the Autobahn in Germany where everyone can drive whatever speed they feel is safe for them. If the Postdoc or PI sets an example of driving 100 mph, the new grad student (who knows nothing of the risk) will do the same. And the risk a person's are willing to take is THEIR risk—it does not account for the institution's risk. (Of course, if that person does get a chemical burn they very well may sue the institution for not protecting them.)
And I'm not sure why universities teach graduate students that it's OK to wear shorts when their future employer won't allow it.
Pete Reinhardt, Yale EHS
I figure its about time to dredge up this old topic again. After scrolling through the listserv archives, I am curious to how all of you handle shorts/skirts in the research labs. I know most of you have policies either requiring, or at least recommending long pants. Some may even be a bit looser and be okay with shorts/skirts as long as a lab coat is worn that covers to the knees. From personal experience, shorts were allowed (although not “recommended”) while I was in grad school in undergrad teaching labs and graduate research labs (early-mid 2000s).
Enforcement in undergradaute labs is relatively easy in my opinion – if a student is not following procedures outlined by the instructor, they don't participate in the lab. I am curious as to how you enforce a “no shorts” rule in an academic research labs. I train to a “risk assessment” approach and try and teach students, postdocs, and PIs to make good decisions based on the hazards present within their work spaces by performing cursory risk assessments on everything they do. Blanket “lab threshold-type” policies I do not think are that effective and call into question EHS credibility – hence my risk-based approach to PPE.
Closed toed/top shoes and eye protection requirements for researchers are usually met without much argument. However, the shorts/skirt seems to draw a lot more debate.
Brandon S. Chance, M.S., CCHO
Associate Director of Environmental Health and Safety
Office of Risk Management
Southern Methodist University
PO Box 750231 | Dallas, TX 75275-0231
T) 214.768.2430 | M) 469-978-8664
"… our job in safety is to make the task happen, SAFELY; not to interfere with the work…” Neal Langerman
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